I move that leave be granted to introduce a Bill entitled an Act to make further and better provision in relation to the health of the people and to provide for the making of regulations by virtue of which certain charges may be made.
Health Bill, 1947—First Stage.
I technically oppose the motion for leave to introduce in order to enable the Minister to say something about the Bill. We are now getting into the really important part of the financial business, and, after our experience in the early part of last year with the Public Health Bill, I consider it very unfair that the Public Health Bill should now make its unhappy reappearance, in view of the urgent and important financial discussions that will take place.
After moving Items Nos. 1 and 2, I intend to move for the removal of the Public Health Bill, 1945, from the Order Paper. These two Bills will replace that old Bill. The Bill has been divided into two parts, the greater part relating to the Health Department and the lesser part to the Local Government Department, in the matter of sanitary services. There are some changes from the old Bill.
Will the Minister say when it is proposed to circulate it?
Before we reassemble.
Does the Minister expect the discussion on this measure to take place after we reassemble?
Does he expect the House to discuss this Bill and the following Bill at the same time as we are dealing with the financial business?
Yes, during the next session.
I opposed the Bill on technical grounds in order to give the Minister an opportunity of telling us something about it, but all he has told us is that the unhappy Public Health Bill, which occupied, in Committee Stage, 15 days of the early part of the financial period last year and was shown to be unworkable after all that discussion, is now to appear in the form of two Bills. We are to be expected to go back and discuss the problems and proposals which were so contentious, both in their nature and in the manner of their presentation last year, in the second and most important part of the financial period. We all had occasion, at the beginning of the session last year, to feel that the House was being very much abused in that, at a time when very serious financial and economic problems required clear and calm review and discussion here, the time of the House, which should have been devoted to that discussion, was devoted to the measure which is now to disappear from the Order Paper.
If there were important and urgent problems to be discussed this time last year, they are more urgent and important now, I suggest, and, in the financial discussions about to take place in April and May, the whole attention of the Parliament should be induced and helped to concentrate on these, so that we may not find ourselves overlooking something which ought to be foreseen in the way in which many things were, no doubt, overlooked last year because of the turmoil into which the discussions of the House were thrown by the debate on the Public Health Bill. I urgently appeal to the Government not to ask the House during the next two months at any rate to go back and discuss any proposals with regard to public health, so long as there are various Estimates dealing with the most serious part of our economy, so long as there are proposals dealing with our financial position, and the Budget, to be discussed. After our experience last year it is an extraordinary thing that, in this unhappy anniversary way, the Public Health Bill should reappear on the stage immediately before the Easter Recess. I oppose the introduction of this measure on these grounds.
I am sorry it did not appear sooner.
When is it proposed to take the Second Stage?
16th April. I am merely putting it down for that day.
Will the Minister say if in circulating this Bill he proposes to circulate a White Paper of the type the Taoiseach promised would be circulated on public health, before a measure of this kind?
Of course, the White Paper on Public Health is a different matter. That White Paper will appear in due time, in relation to the future policy on public health but this Public Health Bill is apart from the White Paper altogether. I certainly will issue an explanatory memorandum on the Bill, if Deputies wish.
I am not speaking of an explanatory memorandum. I am speaking of a White Paper on public health policy. Surely, if we are to see that White Paper at all, we ought to be able to discuss the details of the Bill in relation to the Government's exposition of its public health policy in a White Paper.
The legislation that will be necessary under the White Paper will have to follow the White Paper. They are not connected very closely.
Do I understand from the Minister that we are going to have this Public Health Bill and then a further Bill on the Public Health Acts and, after that, a review of the public health policy in the country and then a statement in a White Paper on our public health policy that will involve further legislation after that?
For ten years to come.
When will the Bill be available?
Before we reassemble after the recess. I could not say when.